ATHENS -- True freshman Trenton Thompson looks the part of a defensive tackle that can compete in the SEC.
That won't always translate into success on the field.
Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows the fan base is hopeful for his high-prized recruit to step in and shore up the inside of the defensive line. But Pruitt, at least early in the preseason, is mindful of Thompson and the other true freshmen pressing in practice to meet outside expectations.
“The one thing we don’t want to do in this class is create unrealistic expectations,” Pruitt said. “Our goal with those guys is to do their best every day. As a fan base, sometimes when we start recruiting a lot of really good players, you put these expectations out there. The reality of it is there is not a whole lot of true freshmen that play anywhere across the league.”
In addition to Thompson, freshmen defensive backs Jarvis Wilson and Jonathan Abram are vying for playing time in the secondary. Freshman Natrez Patrick could factor in the mix at inside linebacker as well.
“Again, it's going back to, we expect you to learn what to do, both assignment‑wise and fundamentally what to do, play with great energy every day, and just try to become the best player you can be at whatever position you play,” head coach Mark Richt said. “Then we'll determine who's going to play as we go. But we're not trying to sit here and say, We want you to live up to everybody's expectation of what you should become this season.”
Thompson, at 6-4 and 307 pounds, will get his chance to prove he deserves playing time. In the first two days of practice, Thompson has displayed the quick movement on the defensive line that he was known for in high school.
Pruitt proved a year ago he’s willing to play true freshmen if they give Georgia the best chance to win. But he did appear hopeful he wouldn’t have to rely on more than just a couple in 2015.
“Every year, a few teams have about two or three, I’m sure we’ll have two or three this year,” Pruitt said. “Probably, if you’re playing with a whole lot of true freshmen you’re not very good.”